Powell v. Texas Case Brief
Summary of Powell v. Texas, Supreme Court of the United States (1968)
Defendant: Powell; the defendant was charged and convicted under a statue which made public drunkenness a criminal offense. The defendant argued that he was a chronic drinker and he had no control over his drinking. The defendant argued that under Robinson v. California, the current statue was unconstitutional because it was cruel and unusual.
Issue: 1. Can the defendant be charged under the statue even if he is a chronic drinker? 2. Is the statue unconstitutional?
Holding: 1. Yes; 2. No
Legal Reasoning: The court stated that ruling in the favor of the defendant would be going to far “on the basis of too little knowledge.” The court stated that medical experts are not sure at this time whether alcoholism can be considered a disease. The court further ruled that when defendant took that first drink, he voluntarily made that decision and the argument that he had the compulsion to drink, does not work. The court further ruled that Robinson does not apply to the current situation because in that case, a status of drug addiction was being punished whereas in the current case, the defendant is not being punished for being an alcoholic, but instead, he is being punished for being drunk in a public place. The conviction was affirmed.